When Google Can't Figure Out Its Own Webspam Rules, Perhaps It Needs To Rethink The Rules

from the too-confusing-for-itself dept

Last week we, like many other publishers, saw Google's Matt Cutts post a "reminder" that Google's PageRank system punishes sites that sell "links" or "advertorial pages" that pass along an impact on PageRank. After reading it, it actually sent us in a bit of a scramble, because while we're pretty careful about these things, and have no desire to help others boost their PageRank, we suddenly got worried that even some of our fully disclosed and clearly labelled advertising/sponsorship partnerships might technically run afoul of the rule. After reading through a bunch of documentation, we're pretty confident that we're in the clear, but not entirely sure.

Apparently, we're not the only ones. Among those who have been found to be violating Google's stated polices is Google itself. SearchEngineLand has a pretty detailed expose of a variety of ways in which Google appears to violate their stated rules, and also notes that its own site might also accidentally violate the rules in a few places. At that point, you have to wonder if the rules themselves really make sense.

I'm sure that the rules are intended for all the right reasons: no one wants someone to pay to impact search results. But blanket statements about some of these things can get pretty tricky, pretty fast. Google, for its part, insists that it is reviewing its own violations, and the webspam team won't treat its own divisions any different than anyone else. And, in fact, we've seen Google punish itself for similar violations in the past. But the bigger issue is that rather than just showing that it doesn't have a double standard for itself, wouldn't it be better to realize that perhaps the rules aren't as clear cut as some would want them to be, and that perhaps there are better ways to tackle this particular problem?

Filed Under: advertising, advertorial, link spam, rules, search rank, web spam
Companies: google

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  1. icon
    techinabox (profile), 25 Feb 2013 @ 10:45pm

    Re: Weird

    As far as I understand it it is not to penalize ads but things like web rings and link lists where a site is nothing but links to other sites and no content. Which is why this appears to be so fine a line.

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